Sunday April 20th, 2014, 6:53 am (EDT)

US Politics/Economy

Political Economy of the US

On Walking the Walk

Anne Braden, The Wall Between (2nd edition, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999), 348 pages, $40 cloth, $20 paper.

Perhaps you, like me, tend to greet reissues in general and memoirs in particular, with a polite ho–hum. Why a reissue now, I ask, and who benefits from this republication? Does anyone lose? But when I read Anne Braden’s analytical memoir, I concluded that we all gain by The Wall Between now becoming available to a wider audience… | more |

October 2001, Volume 53, Number 5

October 2001, Volume 53, Number 5

» Notes from the Editors
The fact that the vested interests in the United States are able to rely on a well-oiled propaganda system, in which the media dutifully play their appointed role, is perhaps nowhere clearer today than in the case of Social Security privatization. From the standpoint of the establishment the truth simply will not do. If the truth were presented on Social Security, that is, if there were a responsible and independent press hammering away at the truth, against the obscene manipulation of the facts by the establishment, there would be no Social Security “crisis” and no substantial public support for even partial privatization. The idea of the failure of Social Security is a classic case of propaganda by the elite aimed at manipulating the minds of the people.

Unglaring Exceptions

Dissent in the Films of the 1950s

While the largest American audiences of 1954 watched James Stewart studying his neighbors in Rear Window, or Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge shooting it out in Johnny Guitar, or Victor Mature fondling Susan Hayward in Demetrius and the Gladiators, while many savored the inspired lunacies of Beat the Devil, there was one film that most were protected from seeing. Salt of the Earth, made independently by blacklisted writers—directed by Herbert Biberman of the Hollywood Ten, written by Michael Wilson, and produced by Paul Jarrico—was presented by the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers, which had been expelled from the CIO in 1950 on charges of Communist domination. The movie was beleaguered from its inception. Filmed in Silver City, New Mexico, Salt of the Earth was based on the 1951-1952 strike by the Mexican-American zinc miners of Mine-Mill, who had demanded equality with their Anglo colleagues, as well as safety regulations on the job… | more |

Terror Attacks of September 11, 2001

During this extremely sad and traumatic time, we extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who lost their life on September 11th. We also wish for the speedy and full recovery of those who were injured, and we hope and pray that in the aftermath of the attacks, rescue crews can find as many people still alive as possible … | more |

July-August 2001, Volume 53, Number 3

July-August 2001, Volume 53, Number 3

» Notes from the Editors

As many of you know, we sent out an emergency appeal two months ago to raise $100,000 to make up for a cash deficit. We found ourselves in the paradoxical position of having experienced the largest increase in magazine circulation last year in more than a decade, while looking at a bank account that was pointing toward empty. MR’s very existence was threatened. The problem arose in part because we were without an editor for MR Press for over a year. As a result, book schedules were delayed and new projects put on hold… | more |

Prisons and Executions—The U.S. Model

A Historical Introduction

The prison is so prominent an institution in present-day society that it is difficult to remember that the prison as a place of punishment is only a little more than two hundred years old. It emerged first in the United States and soon after in Europe, and its early phase of development was that of 1789-1848, conforming to what historian Eric Hobsbawm has termed The Age of Revolution. It was thus a product of the dual revolution that formed the basis for modern capitalism: the industrial revolution centered in Britain and the political revolution that took place in the United States and France… | more |

Lawyers, Jails, and the Law’s Fake Bargains

Assume that Canada and the Western European countries have about the right number of people in jail. Assume that the social problem of crime is not terribly different in those countries than in the United States. Understand that our incarceration rate is five to eight times that of those other countries. If these assumptions, and this understanding, are even nearly valid, 80 percent of the people in American jails should not be there… | more |

Cruel but Not Unusual

The Punishment of Women in U.S. Prisons

After years of neglect, the issue of women in prison has begun to receive attention in this country. Media accounts of overcrowding, lengthening sentences, and horrendous medical care in women’s prisons appear regularly. Amnesty International—long known for ignoring human rights abuses inside United States prisons and jails—issued a report, two days shy of International Women’s Day 2001, documenting over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse of U.S. women prisoners by their jailers. However, we seldom hear from these women themselves. And we never hear from women incarcerated for their political actions… | more |

Disablement, Prison, and Historical Segregation

The story of disablement and the prison industrial complex must begin with a trail of telling numbers: a disproportionate number of persons incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are disabled. Though Census Bureau data suggest that disabled persons represent roughly one-fifth of the total population, prevalence of disability among prisoners is startlingly higher, for reasons we will examine later. While no reliable cross- disability demographics have been compiled nationwide, numerous studies now enable us to make educated estimates regarding the incidence of various disability categories among incarcerated persons. Hearing loss, for example, is estimated to occur in 30 percent of the prison population, while estimates of the prevalence of mental retardation among prisoners range from 3 to 9.5 percent… | more |

Teaching in Prison

If prisons were places people who have committed serious crimes were sent to pay a debt to society, and to be rehabilitated to return to society as healthy members of it, then at least the following things would be true. First, people who had not committed serious crimes would not be in prison at all. Drug users and persons with mental illnesses would receive treatment and would live in their communities, either at home or in safe and hospitable facilities run as public entities. Those who had committed minor criminal offences, such as shoplifting, would be given non-prison sentences involving counseling and community service. As much as possible, communities would be involved in both setting the penalties and organizing and participating in the treatment. Ironically, this was typically the case in American Indian communities, now so ravaged by the U.S. criminal injustice system… | more |

Credo of a Passionate Skeptic

Recently I collected a number of my prose writings for a forthcoming volume. Rereading them, it struck me that for some readers, the earlier pieces might seem to belong to a bygone era—twenty to thirty years ago. I chose to include them as background, indicating certain directions in my thinking. A burgeoning women’s movement in the 1970s and early 1980s incited and provided the occasions for them, created their ecology. But, as I suggested in “Notes Toward a Politics of Location,” my thinking was unable to fulfill itself within feminism alone… | more |

Statement on the Rebellion in Cincinnati and Continued Police Terror

The situation in Cincinnati almost reminds one of advertisements for the 1970s film “Jaws”: just when you thought that it was safe to go back into the water… Just when many people thought that it could not get any worse, another blatant example of police abuse and murder … | more |

April 2001, Volume 52, Number 11

April 2001, Volume 52, Number 11

» Notes from the Editors

p>It was just over a year ago that we asked John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney to serve as acting co-editors of Monthly Review, with a view to having four co-editors. Although Foster and McChesney were naturals for undertaking this responsibility—they are longtime MR contributors and MR Press authors—the type of collegiality necessary to make a publication like MR tick is delicate and difficult to predict. We therefore thought it desirable that they be “acting” co-editors, to provide for a trial period. In the past year we have worked together in a truly collective way, published some of our best issues, and circulation has grown at a rapid pace. In addition to political economy and socialist education, John and Bob have opened MR up to new areas where we are now on the cutting edge. John is among the three or four leading environmental sociologists, and Bob holds similar distinction as a media and communications scholar. Moreover, both John and Bob have been active in radical movements for much of the past two decades. There is a lot of ballyhoo nowadays about public intellectuals. In John and Bob we have two of the very best of the breed. To top it off, they are genuinely warm and loving individuals with whom everyone enjoys working. MR’s morale has not been this high in a very long time. We are thus happy to announce that these two younger friends and colleagues are joining us as permanent—no longer “acting”—co-editors of Monthly Review… | more |

Neoliberalism from Reagan to Clinton

Michael Meeropol, Surrender: How the Clinton Administration Completed the Reagan Revolution (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998), 377 pages, cloth $34.50, paper $19.95.

Recent presidential elections in the United States have obfuscated, more than clarified, the social divisions of American society. While the Democrats project a well-worn image of protecting working Americans the Republicans declare the need to defend traditional American values. In reality, the consensus between the two parties on the superiority of American government and the beneficence of capitalism rules any challenge to the status quo politically out of bounds (even the candidacy of longtime policy activist Ralph Nader was seen as beyond the pale). The contest between Albert Gore and George W. Bush—a contest between patrician familial dynasties that could only occur in the United States—was no exception… | more |

Contemporary Police Brutality and Misconduct

A Continuation of the Legacy of Racial Violence

The February 25, 2001 electoral victory of the Moldovan Communist party marked the first return to power of a Communist party in any of the sovereign fragments of the Former Soviet Union (“FSU”). If you have left wing politics and can use a dose of optimism, this event is a positive portent for—at last—an end to the Mafia capitalist regimes of “democratic reform” that constitute the glory of the U.S. victory in the cold war. The most interesting question is not what the Moldovan Communists can achieve in their sovereign ministate, but what can be hoped to happen as a result in the rest of the FSU community. But, you ask, in 2001 is the FSU a “community” in the sense that the Soviet Union was in, say, 1988? The only plausible answer is “yes and no.” The “no” side is easy enough to lay out, all you need is a current map and almanac. The “yes” side requires more effort … | more |

We Must Succeed!

The Black Radical Congress Campaign

The drama of the November 7th elections further revealed the extent of Black exclusion from U.S. society at the turn of the century. Local officials, poll managers and attendants, police and the Supreme Court all played an active role in stripping Black people of the right to vote. This latest outrage is but part of a broader, on-going attack on the gains of previous progressive, labor and radical movements, and an assault on our communities … | more |

March 2001, Volume 52, Number 10

March 2001, Volume 52, Number 10

» Notes from the Editors

Two decades after the Carter and Reagan administrations launched their attacks on the U.S. regulatory system the world is littered with the wreckage of neoliberal deregulation. Seldom have these failures loomed so prominently, however, as in the rolling blackouts that swept much of California in January of this year. These rolling blackouts were implemented by California power authorities in a desperate attempt to deal with a burgeoning crisis in the availability of electrical power resulting from the deregulation of California’s electrical power companies beginning in 1996. The deregulation legislation, passed unanimously by the California state legislature, promised a 20 percent drop in electricity rates by 2002. Rates for final consumers were to be frozen at around 50 percent above the national average for up to four years (1998-2002), during which time the ratepayers were required to contribute to paying off the “stranded assets” of the major private utility companies, consisting of billions of dollars in bad investments in nuclear power facilities. So far, California ratepayers have paid out seventeen billion dollars to the private electrical utilities under these provisions. Deregulation also required the utilities to sell off their power generation facilities (with the exception of some hydropower and nuclear facilities).… | more |

Capitalism and Crisis

Creating a Jailhouse Nation

Christian Parenti, Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in The Age of Crisis (Verso,1999), 320 pages, $25 hardcover, $15 paper.

By the time I was captured in 1981, the prologue to a life sentence, I had twenty years of movement experience—both above and underground—under my belt. So I thought I had a good understanding of the race and class basis of prisons. But once actually inside that reality, I was stunned by just how thoroughly racist the criminal justice system is and also by the incessant petty hassles of humiliation and degradation. As political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal aptly noted in Live From Death Row, there is a “profound horror…in the day-to-day banal occurrences…[the] second-by-second assault on the soul.” The 1980s became the intense midpoint of an unprecedented explosion of imprisonment.1 Since 1972, the number of inmates in this country, on any given day, has multiplied six-fold to the two million human beings behind bars today.2 Another four million are being supervised on parole or probation. The U.S. is the world leader in both death sentences and incarcerations. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, we hold 25 percent of the prisoners… | more |

The Myth of the Middle-Class Society

Michael Zweig, The Working Class Majority: America’s Best Kept Secret (Cornell University Press, 2000), 192 pages, $25 cloth, $14.95 paper.

The claim that the U.S. is a “middle-class country”—which goes back at least to the eighteenth century—has set apart (white) yeoman farmers from the rural or urban poor, and notably from nonwhites. Thomas Jefferson envisioned his ideal nation as the land of, and for, hard-working property holders, free of the turmoil and corruption inevitable in Europe’s aristocratic fixed-class system… | more |

A Silent Coup d’État

A Silent Coup d’État

Saturday morning December 9, 2000, I awoke with a sense of dread. Not since the week before the overthrow of the Allende government had I experienced that precise sensation. Before the day was done, my fear had come true: I experienced a coup d’état in my own country.… | more |